In addition to a wealth of awesome local street festivals, Chicago summers are also generously seasoned with big scale music festivals throughout our city's parks. When you only have so much time though (not to mention money in your bank), sometimes it's hard to decide which festivals you'll enjoy the most.

If you're still on the fence about this summer's fests, let us help you narrow down your options and plan your summer:

Spring Awakening Music Festival

  • When? Friday, June 14, through Sunday, June 16
  • Where? Soldier Field
  • How much? Three-day passes are $215 after service charges and single day tickets just went on sale for $80
  • Who's going to be on stage? Spring Awakening prides itself on being the first electronic music event to take place inside Soldier Field (where Da Bears play). Newer names on the dance music charts like Calvin Harris and Bassnectar mostly top the bill but there are a handful of acts like Moby and Paul Oakenfold for more seasoned fans.
  • Who's going to be in the audience? Mostly young ravers with insatiable energy and a wealth of glowsticks.

Chicago Gospel Music Festival

Gospel Festival

  • When? Thursday, June 20, through Sunday, June 23
  • Where? Concerts take place in Millennium Park, the Chicago Cultural Center and Ellis Park
  • How much? Free admission to all events
  • Who's going to be on stage? This beautiful festival of praise features local, national and international gospel music artists including headliners Kevin Gray, Vickie Winans and the Chicago Mass Choir. 
  • Who's going to be there? With multiple locations, including Ellis Park in Bronzeville (the birthplace of Chicago Gospel music), expect many neighborhood families to turn out as well as many faithful out of towners who want to show up and sing along. 
  • BONUS: On Saturday, June 22, the festival will offer free 90-minutes tours of historic Bronzeville churches that have been influential to the local Gospel music community. 

Wavefront Music Festival

  • When? Friday, July 5, through Sunday, July 7
  • Where? Montrose Beach
  • How much? Three-day passes are $190; single day tickets will run you $70
  • Who's going to be there? In addition to being the only Chicago festival held on a beach, Wavefront is a celebration of house music -- birthed right here in Chi-Town. Acts like Derrick Carter, Erick Morillo, and Fatboy Slim carry on the house music tradition this year along with other big names like Diplo, Rusko and Justice.
  • Who's going to be in the audience? Househeads. Duh. It's less rave-y than many of the other electronic music events here this summer. You won't feel like a dinosaur if you're over thirty. But don't be fooled, there's just as much dancing!

Pitchfork Music Festival

Pitchfork Music Festival

  • When? Friday, July 19, though Sunday, July 21
  • Where? Union Park in the West Loop neighborhood
  • How much? Three-day passes are sold out but single day tickets cost remain for $50
  • Who's going to be there? Produced by the popular online music magazine of the same name, Pitchfork strives to book some of the best up and coming acts along with already popular indie bands. This year headliners include Belle & Sebastian, Bjork and R. Kelly but the bill also includes Solange (Beyonce's little sister), rapper Killer Mike, M.I.A., Yo La Tengo and more. 
  • Who's going to be in the audience? Hipsters in their 20s and 30s who take pride in their ahead-of-the-curve taste in music (but who will still bug out when R. Kelly plays "Ignition (Remix)"). 



  • When? Friday, August 2, through Sunday, August 4
  • Where? Grant Park
  • How much? Tickets have been sold out for Chicago's biggest music festival of the summer since the day they went on sale. You might try poking around StubHub and Craiglist through.
  • Who's going to be on stage? One of the reasons Lollapalooza is so popular is that it offers a little bit of everything -- rock, rap, electronic and more. This year attendees will get to see Nine Inch Nails, Mumford & Songs, Vampire Weekend, Kendrick Lamar, Steve Aoki and hundreds of other acts. 
  • Who's going to be in the audience? With old favorites like The Cure to brand new Internet sensations like Baauer at the festival, Lollapalooza's crowd is fairly diverse. Expect many a beer-loving, party-ready, former Big Ten college-going music fans to turn out in Grant Park this weekend though.

Chicago Jazz Festival

Jazz Festival

  • When? Thursday, August 29, through Sunday, September 1
  • Where? Chicago Cultural Center (Thursday evening) and Millennium Park (Friday through Sunday)
  • How much? Free admission
  • Who's going to be on stage? Programmed by the Jazz Institute of Chicago, this year the Jazz Festival welcomes a myriad of talented acts like the the Charles Lloyd Quartet, Jason Moran, the Julie Wood Quintet and Donald Harrison. 
  • Who's going to be in the audience? Now in its 35th year, the Chicago Jazz Music Festival is a Labor Day weekend tradition that draws families, tourists, locals and anyone else looking for a nice late-summer stroll in the park accompanied by world class music. 

North Coast Music Festival

North Coast Music Festival

  • When? Friday, August 30, through Sunday, September 1
  • Where? Union Park, just west of the Loop
  • How much? Three-day passes start at $135
  • Who's going to be on stage? North Coast is a cool blend of electronic music (Afrojack, Big Gigantic, Datsik), rap (Wu-Tang Clang, Nas, Danny Brown) and rock/jam bands (THe Disco Biscuits, Future Rock, Purity Ring). 
  • Who's going to be in the audience? North Coast's nickname, "Summer's Last Stand," typically rings true. Local college kids and their slightly older peers descend on Union Park for one last summer party.

A.V. Fest/Hideout Block Party

  • When? Friday, September 6, and Saturday, September 7
  • Where? The Hideout, tucked away at 1354 W. Wabansia Ave.
  • How much? $60 for both days
  • Who's going to be on stage? Comedic newspapers The Onions' arts and culture section the A.V. Club curates a lineup that's no joke. This year the bill sports the likes of Young the Giant, Neko Case, Superchuck, The Hold Steady and more!
  • Who's going to be in the audience? The Hideout is a neighborhood favorite in Bucktown so there's a fun sense of community there. Don't expect a pretentious atmosphere!

Riot Fest

  • When? Friday, September 13, through Sunday, September 15
  • Where? Humboldt Park
  • How much? Three-day passes start at $150 with an optional VIP upgrade
  • Who's going to be there? Earlier this year, Choose Chicago predicted Riot Fest to be the festival to beat in 2013 and it's certainly shaping up that way. As the resident punk rock bonanza in Chicago, this year Riot Fest will feature the likes of Fall Out Boy, Blink 182, The Violent Femmes, Bad Religion and a ton of other amazing bands. 
  • Who's going to be in the audience? Riot Fest's crowd is a nice, older, laid back gaggle of fans to match the bands performing -- a good deal of which have been around for 10+ years. However, there are carnival rides and last year saw a surprising amount of kiddies turn out. 

So that's it! Pick your poison and we'll be seeing you this summer.

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